Monday, November 26, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph - 101min – PG
It’s very good to get back, I have another two weeks of classes but I couldn’t wait any longer. I am BACK BABY!!!!

I went to go see Wreck-It Ralph. Having spent most of my young life in either a movie theater or an arcade how could I pass this movie up? This movie spoke to me on a several levels and I do give it a green, but it was defiantly on the cusp of a yellow and a green. This is a kid focused film and it had some elements for adults but I noticed the balance was off from other family films. The message was delivered with a heavy hand and the story elements directed toward the adults were few and far between. I did notice the length of the film so it did not keep my attention.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a bad guy in a video game called Fix-it Felix Jr. the other characters from this game alienate him. In order to prove that he is more than just a bad guy he jumps games and tries to prove that he is more than his label of “bad guy”. Felix (Jack McBrayer), the hero of the game, goes in search of his gamemate because without the wrecking guy the game is in danger of being turned off for good. Ralph tries his hand at some of the other video games and meets Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) from a first person shooter named Hero’s Duty and a glitch racer named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) from the racing game called Sugar Rush. While helping others, Ralph learns that he is not defined by the job that he does. A bad guy is what he does its not who he is.

I was under the misconception this was a Pixar film. It’s not. It is a Disney Animation Studio Film. The technical quality of story is high, but the balance for family members was slanted more to the kids than everyone. The one thing I can count on from a Pixar film is the focus on a great story that everyone can enjoy. I did enjoyed myself but I was defiantly not the target audience. I had a blast with the nostalgic game of spot your favorite arcade game characters, but it did not go on long enough to carry me through the movie. I enjoyed “Paperman” the cartoon Short at the beginning of the film more than the main movie.

Rich Moore directed this film and he is no stranger to the animation genre. His credits have Simpsons and Futurama among others that cater to the more mature viewer. In his attempt to swing more to the middle of the spectrum he overshot just a tad. This also may have been pressures from the studio to keep it cleaner and family friendly than what he is used to. I would say this is a great time for kids and an ok time for adults.

WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! Only people with a high score click here to see the spoilers!!!!

Alan Tudyk does a great job as King Candy/Turbo Bug monster. He has such a great range with his voice and his characterizations that I had no idea it was him until I looked him up. He completely snuck up on me.

I thought the love interest was a bit much to add into the film. It added length but not really substance to the film. It really should have stayed focused on Ralph and his journey, and having Felix and Calhuon start a relationship did nothing to further the story along.

One nit-picky thing, this movie was set in an arcade, and you had arcade game bad guys at the meeting, why was Mario’s nemesis Bowser at that meeting? If all games communicate through the power system of the Arcade why would a console game character be there?(Ok shutting up now.)

*Update* My corrections department (my wife) has indicated that Vs Mario Brothers was an arcade game that featured Bowser as the boss bad guy. Ok!!! picky –nit retracted!!!

What was your favorite Arcade game growing up and did you see it in the movie?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rise of the Guardians - Guest Review

Rise of the Guardians - 97min - PG
by C. L. Cadwallader

This is not a movie I was looking forward to. I had never heard of the books on which it was based, and I had seen only one short trailer. I get nervous when the celebrity voices of an animated kids movie are touted as the primary draw. If I want to see Chris Pine or Hugh Jackman, I'll go see Star Trek or Real Steel. In an animated movie, I want to see the right voice for the part - not big names. But, we needed some good family entertainment, and had already seen Wreck It Ralph, so Guardians was the choice.

It was a good choice. Rise of the Guardians delivers on all fronts. It's one of those rare films that pleased the whole family - from the 10-year-old to the parents and even the sullen teenager who hates everything. I'm giving this one a big green light for all ages.

The movie opens with narration from Jack Frost (Chris Pine). He is remembering how The Man in the Moon chose him as a winter spirit - but he doesn't know why. He has no purpose in life. He spends his time creating snow days for children and playing winter games in a world that doesn't believe he exists. Cut to North, aka Santa Claus (Alec Baldin). While prepping for the next Christmas, he receives a visitation from Pitch (Jude Law) - the spirit of nightmares who was thought defeated hundreds of years ago. North gathers the other Guardians together - Sandman (a mute who communicated with magical sand images), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman). The Man in the Moon informs them they will need to add a new Guardian to their number in order to defeat Pitch - none other than young Jack Frost. What follows is an exciting and heart-warming adventure that touches on the nature of childhood, belief and heroism while not ever descending into the realm of the "After School Special" to deliver its message.

I found this movie to be thoroughly entertaining. It has inspired me to get the Guardians of Childhood books by William Joyce for my own 10-year-old son. (Honestly. They're for the kid. Stop looking at me like that.)

Parents should be aware that for very young children, Pitch might be a bit too scary. I wouldn't say he's any more frightening than Scar in The Lion King or Sid's toys in Toy Story. If your child is old enough to handle that level of darkness, they should be OK in Guardians.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skyfall - Guest Review

Skyfall - 143min - PG13
C. L. Cadwallader

I love James Bond movies. I watched "For Your Eyes Only" at least a dozen times on HBO when I was a kid. It hooked me on Bond and I've stayed hooked. I am not ashamed to say that I can find something to like about every single Bond movie from "Dr. No" forward. I like Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Brosnan. I even like Timothy Dalton.

Above all these movies and actors that I have enjoyed, Daniel Craig's performance as Bond in 2006's "Casino Royale" ranks #1 in my book. "Skyfall" is Craig's third turn at Bond, and he continues his portrayal of a harder, more visceral secret agent for the 21st Century -- more reliant on basic bullets and brains than snazzy devices from Q and witty repartee. Here we see a Bond who is far from invulnerable. He's suave and tough of course he rocks a tuxedo like no one else, but if you cut him, he bleeds. "Skyfall" goes out of its way to show us Bond as a person -- someone with a past who exists in a dangerously real world. I give it a green light as an exciting and entertaining continuation of a series I hope to continue seeing for decades to come.

In the traditional Bond cold-open "Skyfall" shows us Bond and his young female protégé chasing a lost computer hard drive through Istanbul. The chase ends when Bond is shot and presumed killed by friendly fire. Bond returns to action when an attack takes out MI-6 headquarters. His quest to find those responsible leads him to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI-6 agent with a serious axe to grind against M (Judi Dench). In the meantime, M has problems of her own, in the form of MP Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) who thinks she no longer has what it takes to run a 21st Century intelligence operation.

Every performance in this movie is top-shelf. Daniel Craig is as smooth and tough as ever. Judi Dench is terrific as a woman born to be tough, but with just the right touch of sentiment and humor. Javier Bardem is creepy, brilliant and diabolical like the Bond villains of old. And how can you go wrong with actors like Ralph Feinnes and Albert Finney supporting roles?

If there was one thing to criticize about this movie, it would be the 143 minute running time. The third act drags on a bit while we set up for the inevitable final confrontation. Once we got to that fight though, I forgot about checking my watch (and breathing at times) and went along for an action-packed ride worthy of any Bond film.

Long live Bond. When is 24 coming out?